Brendan O’Donoghue beat Joe Delaney 5-2 to claim the fifth ranking event of the Irish Senior campaign yesterday in Celbridge.
The Nenagh player impressively surrendered only three frames in his last three matches for his second success this season and puts him to within touching distance of top place in the Irish rankings.
Rodney Goggins, who has held the number one spot since the first event in Carlow last October, marginally remains in pole position to secure the annual nomination to the professional tour from the Irish circuit.
Goggins reached the semi-finals, a stage he has reached in every tournament so far this year proving his high levels of consistency, only to be narrowly defeated by Delaney 4-3 in a tight last four contest.
In the other semi-final clash, O’Donoghue eased past Mark Tuite 4-1 having earlier whitewashed Keith Sheldreck 4-0 in the quarter-finals.
Maynooth’s Vincent Muldoon could not make it a hat-trick of ranking event victories after a surprise 3-1 loss to Joe Corrigan in the last 32 which could ultimately prove very costly in his ambitions of finishing atop the standings list come the end of the campaign.
With only a couple of events left, it looks like it will be between Goggins and O’Donoghue for the top prize unless fellow former pros Muldoon or Delaney can launch a late attack.
In saying that, the former pair’s consistency of reaching the business end of every event would suggest that it may be just that little bit too late for a challenge to arise from anywhere else.
As ever, recent Snookerbacker Classic qualifier Johnny Williams was in the heat of battle – losing out to Colm Gilcreest in the last 16 – and he again took time out to offer his insight into another competitive weekend’s action on the Irish scene.
“Despite being knocked out in the last 16 I’m actually quite content with my tournament. I won my first match 3-0 with two 50 plus breaks and a 75 and I felt good. I had a tough next match with Philip Browne, who on form is a potting machine, but when I went 2-0 down I actually dug deep for once, came back to force a decider and had a 101 break to win it. I was thrilled with this but 10 minutes later I was playing Colm Gilcreest on a completely different type of table as it had steel back cushions and I found it very hard to adapt. That being said, Colm is one of the best players I have come across over the years and, being an ex pro, if he gets you on a pro table he is very hard to beat.
“Three new players stood out for me during this tournament. Joe Corrigan played very solid match snooker to beat Vincent Muldoon 3-1 in the last 32. It was a big shock with Vinnie coming off two Senior wins and a maximum break in a local flyer the previous Thursday.
“I was also really impressed with Ryan Cronin, just coming off back-to-back wins at both u-21 and u-19 levels. He has a new-found confidence, doesn’t fear any player and had a good tight victory over Corrigan in the last 16. Finally, Mark Tuite was the pick of my three favourites from the weekend. He was absolutely buzzing and I think he had six breaks over 90 for the event. He beat me in Letterkenny in under 40 minutes and we’re very close in the rankings.
“At the business end of the event, the usual suspects in Rodney Goggins and Brendan O’Donoghue were their normal clinical selves. With Brendan winning the event, Goggins going out in the semi-finals and Muldoon in the last 32, everything is still to play for but that was a huge blow to Muldoon’s number one aspirations with not many events left.
“Consistency is key from now on in, none of the top three can afford to lose against lesser ranked opposition. I obviously mustn’t forget Joe Delaney who was the local favourite and had an excellent tournament to reach the final.
“Like I’ve said before, I do reiterate that I still think Muldoon is the best and most natural player in the country but when it comes to consistency he falls short of O’Donoghue and Goggins who never seem to lose to lower ranked players, which could be pivotal in the season’s conclusion.”
Thanks, as always, to Johnny for his insightful input as the Irish campaign nears to what will surely be a dramatic climax.
Current 2011/12 Irish Senior Rankings Top 10
1. Rodney Goggins – 570
2. Brendan O’Donoghue – 560
3. Vincent Muldoon – 480
4. Joe Delaney – 440
5. Greg Casey – 390
6. Keith Sheldreck – 380
7. Mark Tuite – 320
8. Jason Devaney – 320
9. John Sutton – 310
10. Robert Redmond – 290
(11. Johnny Williams – 290)